Barking Up The Right Track #AllTheStations

While looking online for things to do in London, and other places I might want to travel to, I came across the excellent videos by Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe that have been published by Londonist and on Geoff’s own channel. These include videos about secrets of the Underground, the least used stations in the country, facts about London, vlogs and more.

So railways are a big passion of theirs, but they’re not trainspotters either, and you don’t need to be into trains and railways in a big way to enjoy them. Their videos are accessible, fun and informative, without being nerdy or patronising, as they look more closely at the history and features of the rail network that millions of people use and take for granted on a daily basis.

And right now they’re embarking on their most ambitious project yet, called All The Stations, which is the reason behind my latest outing this weekend.

On this project, Geoff and Vicki are producing a series of documentary videos as they travel through every single station on the UK national rail network. They’re not getting out at every single station – that would be insane and impractical, lovely though the idea is. But they are getting out at some stops that take particular interest to them, in order to explore the stations and the local areas around them. So again it’s not just about the railways, and in effect it’s a massive tour of the UK in general.

It’s not a holiday for them either, as some people seem to think. Far from it. The trip involves filming a large amount of material, which is then professionally edited into videos about each day on the All The Stations Youtube channel, and there will be a feature-length documentary with unseen footage at the end of the trip. Plus they’re posting live videos on their Facebook and Periscope pages, and lots of photos on Instagram and Twitter (and on their own personal feeds – all the links will be at the end of this post). And they have a team of people behind them making it all work. So there’s a lot involved and it’s all paying off so far, as the videos and photos they’ve been posting have been really enjoyable.

As for my own personal interest in this kind of thing, I’m not a trainspotter or a big railway buff, but I’ve always been fascinated with the London Underground. I’ve always loved traveling on it, especially now I’m a resident in the city and have a Freedom Pass (one good thing to come out of having a disability!). I also enjoy watching documentaries and videos on the subject, to the point where I have a couple of DVDs about it (a documentary and a driver’s eye view video). I also played a Tubeopoly treasure hunt game a few months ago, which was great fun. And I would love to do the Tube Challenge one day, where you have to travel through all the stations on the network in one go.

So watching Geoff and Vicki’s videos about the Tube was my way into their world, and from there I grew to appreciate their videos about the wider railway system as well. So when they launched a Kickstarter project to fund All The Stations, I was happy to contribute, and the money’s been worth it based on their output so far.

I went for the Trainspotter reward, which includes getting a mention in a thank you video on Facebook, a signed photo from the trip, and the chance to adopt a station. And the latter is the important thing here.

There were quite a few stations I could choose from, and I initially looked at stations in the Westcountry, because I lived there for over 30 years until recently, and I have a lot of stations in Devon that have significance to me. But they were all taken. However, the nearest station to me here in London was not, so I grabbed that one instead – Barking.

The thing is, however, that I had never actually been to Barking before. It’s not far away from me, but I haven’t been in London very long either, and have had various other things keeping me occupied. But I was already planning to go there for a look around, and now it was my adopted station, I had all the more incentive to do so.

You can look up information about individual stations on the National Rail website, which I’ve never actually done before, so I decided to do so for Barking station to see what it said. And I was impressed by the amount of information there. I particularly like the interactive map of the station, because you can hover your mouse over every individual element to find out more about it, including how accessible it is (everything from the platforms, lifts and stairs, to ticket offices, vending machines and toilets, which all have good descriptions). And you can then click on the element you’re hovering over to see a large photograph of it. So, provided you have good enough eyesight, you can have a really good look around pretty much any station before you set foot there, to give you a sense of how it’s laid out.

Incidentally, talking of station maps – the Station Master app for the London Underground, which Geoff has been involved with, is very useful too. And I also loved the picture of the large, tactile station map that All The Stations posted recently at one of their stops. I had no ideas those maps existed, but they’re a great idea!

Anyway, because I adopted Barking, I decided to spend a lovely long afternoon there yesterday, during which I took a variety of photos (some of which are below and on my Instagram) and captured some video footage for Youtube (also shown below). Obviously I’m not a professional video producer like Geoff and Vicki, and if they’d been there they would have spotted plenty of things that I didn’t. I just like filming and taking photos at places I visit, so I can look at them more closely later and keep them as nice memories.

I therefore explored:

  • The station itself, which is pretty big and very accessible. It’s the first time I’ve ever walked around taking photos and videos at a station, so I guess people might have thought I was some kind of trainspotter! At one end there’s a subway linking the platforms, while further along there are stairs to an upper concourse. There are 8 platforms altogether – the District Line goes through here both ways, the Hammersmith & City Line starts here and goes westbound, the London Overground line to Gospel Oak starts here (and goes through Leyton and Walthamstow on the way), and there are c2c services that run here too. So it’s pretty busy. Then once you get out of the ticket gates there are various shops as well, including places to eat and drink, a WHSmith, a jewellers and a dry cleaners, among other things. Not sure who would want to buy jewellery at a station, but I guess some people must do! There are lots of bus stops and a taxi rank outside as well, plus a couple of pubs right next to each other – The Barking Dog and The Spotted Dog.
  • Barking Park & Barking Abbey. The park is a beautiful and very big place, and even has its own light railway, which some people were riding on, so that felt appropriate to see given my reasons for visiting in the first place! Following that railway to the back of the park took me to a gorgeous long lake, with lots of ducks and other birds on the water. So I walked along the length of that, and then turned to walk back through the park, passing the funfair on the way that they’ve got for a short period of time. Coming out of there I then walked past Barking Station in the other direction and went through the high street (which was very crowded with market stalls all down the middle of it), until I eventually reached St Margaret’s Parish Church and the ruins of Barking Abbey, where you can walk through the gardens and the cemetery.

So I hope you enjoyed those photos and video clips. And I highly recommend following Geoff & Vicki’s progress on All The Stations, as it’s a lot of fun. Thank you to them and their team for doing such great work with the project so far – I hope it continues to go well! 🙂

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

8 thoughts on “Barking Up The Right Track #AllTheStations”

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